When to Use “TO” Properly in English?

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Do you ever wonder why we use “to” when we say “I am going to school” or “I am going to the park” while it’s wrong to say “I am going to home”? It’s a big mistake to say “to” when we talk about home. The correct sentence is “I am going home.”

We learned that when you are going someplace, you say “to”. For instance, we say, “When are you going to bed?” OR “Please take this plate if you’re going to the kitchen.” OR “Are you going to work this Saturday again?”. Besides, you also learned that you can use “to” in a past tense form, like “Did you go to school yesterday?”.

But, when you talk about “home,” you do not use it with “to.” This is because you use “to” when referring to a proper noun that shows a specific place.

You don’t use “to” when you use these words: home, abroad, downtown, uptown, underground, anywhere, here, somewhere, nowhere, in, inside, out, outside, downstairs, and upstairs.

When you look at the dictionary, you will find that these are ADVERBS of locations, whereas the other ones you can use with “to” are nouns. So, you don’t use “to” for these words because they are general locations and NOT proper nouns.

Examples are,

  • “I’m going upstairs in a minute.”
  • “Mom and Dad are going downtown tonight.”
  • “He went outside for a walk.”

But hold on, if you check out “home” in a dictionary, it is a noun.

Yes, but it can also be used as an adverb of a place. That’s why “home” is an exception here.

Don’t forget that you use “to” when going to a specific place, which is a proper noun.

Still, getting confused about whether to use “to” or not? Just simply remember or memorize the list of words that I mentioned. Don’t use “to” when you say: home, underground, upstairs, nowhere, inside, out, etc. But you use “to” with nouns.

Take these sentences, for example:

  • “I’m going TO the airport to pick up my friend.”
  • “Jeff is going TO the shopping mall.”
  • “Tyler is going TO the bus station.”

Notice that the underlined words are nouns of places.

Familiarize this grammar rule by practicing with your LingualBox teacher. Over time, you won’t be confused about the proper use of TO when referring to locations and nouns.


Author
I have a passion for the English language because it is such a powerful tool for creativity and personal development. I've been writing articles since I was in High School. I represented my school in English writing competitions in the city, regional, and national levels. When I was in college, I wrote a short story which was published in the University Literary Portfolio. In 2006, I worked as a call center agent in Cebu City. In 2007 up to 2008, I worked as an English accent trainer in a startup call center company. I have also been offering ESL lessons as a freelance tutor since February 2016.